I’m an experienced angler with a love for kayaking who lives close to the beautiful Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. Over the years I’ve tested out different types of kayaks – from sit in to sit on tops yaks; from entry level kayaks to finding out the best fishing kayak under 1000 dollars!
A lot of people don’t realize that every kayak is different and one should choose it based on one’s need but since you’re reading this, then I definitely count you among the more intelligent and sensible lot who likes to plan.
Everyone has their own take on what the best fishing kayak should be like and that’s why I decided to create this ultimate resource guide that will help you out through detailed reviews and an objective analysis of the top angler kayaks in the market.
3 Best Kayaks For Fishing Compared And Reviewed
|Kayak||Sun Dolphin Excursion||Old Town 10-Feet Vapor||Perception Sport Pescador 12|
|Length||12 feet||10 feet||12 feet|
|Weight||40 pounds||55 pounds||60 pounds|
|Type||Sit In||Sit In||Sit on Top|
|Best Fit||Lakes & Small Rivers||Lakes, Ponds & Small Rivers||Inlets, Bays & Canals|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
Towards the end of this guide, I’ll also explain the major differences between sit in vs sit on top kayaks so that you have a better idea as to what makes a good fishing kayak. Now even though there are quite a few fishing kayaks on the market that are pretty decent, I thought it was best to save my readers the trouble of doing all the research on their own.
That’s why you can read below fishing kayak reviews of the top 3 angler yaks chosen by me. Not only will this save you hours of research time but you can be reassured that these have only been chosen and put on this list after thorough personal testing and discussion with other angler experts. So without further ado, let’s move onto these amazing fishing kayaks.
This was the 1st fishing kayak that I ever owned (the 10 feet one) so I might be a bit biased but for an entry level yak, you don’t need to look any further than this. Some people might say that it doesn’t compare with the big boys but then you’ve got to realize the difference between a $2000 best fishing kayaks and one that is available for under 500 dollars!
The Sun Dolphin now also comes in the 12 feet version and that’s the one I recommend to all beginners. Not only is this an affordable single person kayak but is extremely convenient to use and has enough features to keep you happy.
It comes outfitted with two flush mount fishing rod holders and can easily fit into the back of an SUV or small truck. Like the name suggests, it is 12 feet long, has a 30-inch beam and weighs close to about 45 pounds. I have had absolutely no problems lugging this around or carrying it from the garage to the car and fore and aft ends come fitted with carrying handles.
The hull is made from Fortiflex high-density polyethylene and easily breaks through the water and has no problems when it comes to repelling waves that lap up against the gunwale. The cockpit is pretty large with a covered console and allows for good movement when casting and reeling. What I like best is that it comes with padded, adjustable seats so I have absolutely no issues when it comes to leg space. There are also 2 protective thigh pads along the spray deflector collar that protect your knees.
Since this is an entry-level fishing yak, the Excursion doesn’t come loaded with accessories but there are enough basic features to help you reel in the perfect catch. You have 2 flush-mounted rod holders behind the cockpit that allow for multiple lines and a swivel rod holder serves as a third hand for your primary rod. In front of the swivel holder, you also have a small notch covered with a shock cord that allows you to store a water bottle. And for those wondering where to keep your camera, fishing license etc, you have a shock cord rigging to take care of all that.
There’s no separate mounting area for a trolling motor but I’ve seen a few fellow anglers use an external mounting system to make up for the otherwise less power and maneuverability. Also, thanks to the wide profile design as well as the 30-inch beam, you don’t ever need to fear about the vessel flipping and that’s another reason why the manufacturers did not add an additional floatation device. However, if you’re the panicky kinds, then you can easily wedge additional USCG approved floats underneath the seat.
If you’re looking for the best affordable fishing kayak, you’ll be hard-pressed to find other kayaks that come close to the Sun Dolphin Excursion when it comes to price, performance, stability, comfort, and durability. My advice would be to use this only for calm waters and gentle streams and not so much for rough waters.
All in all, it’s a great starter rig for beginner fishers and definitely one of the best fishing kayaks under 500 dollars at the moment!
One of my personal favorites that I’ve been using for quite some time now is the Old Town 10-Feet Vapor 10XT Recreational Fishing Kayak. Extremely compact design wise and very easy to operate, this one brings out the best angler in me.
Since I prefer to sit in kayaks that can carry a considerable amount of load, the Old Town Vapor is my trusty guide on every fishing expedition. It weighs in at just less than 50 pounds and can be easily carried out by an average person. A lot of you might wonder that it might not fit your size because of its 10 feet length, but the truth is, even if you’re 6.5 feet tall and weigh close to 300 pounds, you’ll still fit into this comfortably!
The deck height is almost 17 inches and the wide cockpit (48 inches deep and 20 inches wide) makes it very easy to get in and out. For me, the real winner is the hybrid cockpit and I’m sure other serious anglers will agree with me on this point. You don’t need to worry about the water splashing around your legs (or torso) and because it’s a sit in a yak, you’ll be really dry and protected from the wind.
I’ve also had my 6-year-old nephew accompany me on this yak so yes; it’s big enough for 2 people but you’ll have to compromise on the load factor a bit in such case. Moving onto the seats, it was a real pleasure to slip into a comfortable fishing kayak seat after a long time. The seat is easily adjustable and combined with the huge cockpit space. You can shift your position to almost any combination and avoid fatigue.
For those of you who prefer tracking to be the ultimate test for a fishing yak, you won’t be disappointed at all. The Old Town Vapor is extremely fast for its size and you won’t feel the need to paddle much when kayaking straight across the lake because it simply glides. In fact, this is an extremely important feature for people new to kayaking because often the fatigue spoils the initial fishing experience.
The only point that I have a slight issue with is when it comes to the anchor because it doesn’t seem to hold very well in swift moving current. However, the truth is, this one is designed to be used mainly on calm or moderate choppy waters and in those cases, the anchor does a good job. If you’re still not satisfied, there’s always the option of buying another one.
All said and done, the Old Town 10-Feet Vapor 10XT Recreational Fishing Kayak is one of the best fishing yaks in the market at the moment and Amazon usually runs a great deal on them so you might want to check it out.
Completing my roundup of the 3 best fishing yaks 2017 is the Perception Sport Pescador Pro 12 Kayak, which is one of the most stable and easy to paddle sit on top yaks available in the market at the moment. There’s also a 10-foot version but since I’ve personally used the 12 foot one, this review will be limited to that.
A lot of people wish they could own a high-end fishing kayak and if you’re one of those, then you would have definitely heard of the Wilderness Tarpon. Well, the Pescador Pro 12 is very similar to that in terms of design and features but a whole lot cheaper and extremely good value for money.
This one has a good amount of storage and comes with a large rear tank well and a bow hatch & stern hatch. There’s also a third mid hatch which I don’t believe is present in the 10-foot version. Now for an experienced and regular angler like me, a hatch is a sort of necessity to store my luggage, spare clothing etc.
For the price that it’s available at, the Perception Sport is a pretty decent tracker and quite easy to control. It might wobble slightly the first time but once you get used to the control, the multi-chine hull is designed to keep you going in the direction you want to go.
Another great feature that I personally loved is that the Pescador Pro 12 comes with a comfortable seating system which means you get access to a padded seat pad, padded seat back, and adjustable backrest and this translates into one awesome comfortable ride. Also, unlike other kayaks in this price range, this one comes with an adjustable foot brace system which is very useful in those situations where you need to paddle fast and deep.
Some people might find that it becomes a tad difficult to carry around without a truck because of its length and 60-pound weight. Also remember, one of the disadvantages of any recreational SOT yak is that you’ll have to skip those whitewater or fast rapids.
For those of you who love summer fishing or fishing in inlets, bays, canals or estuaries, then this yak is perfect for you.
Detailed PERCEPTION Pescador Pro 12 Kayak Review
Equipped with a tank-well having a bungee in the rear part, both the 12 and 10-feet models provide stern hatch, as well as bow hatch. The 12-feet model actually has a mid-hatch too.
A good hatch not only works well during camping trips by accommodating various equipment, but also provides enough storage for storing spare clothing articles and dry bags. Many recreational kayakers use hatch to keep phones, keys and other valuable belongings. The tank-well, on the other hand, can be used to strap fishing tackle and cooler down.
Excellent tracking ability
My Perception Pescador Pro 12 review will not do justice if I don’t talk about the tracking ability of this angler yak. When the tracking performance of this kayak is compared to other models that are similarly priced, it seems quite superior. As a matter of fact, when a kayak is longer, it gets easier to control. Therefore, the 12-feet model is better in terms of controllability compared to the 10-feet model. The multi-chine type hull, in addition, provides enough support to maintain linear direction. Many kayaks equipped with inferior hull get spun by strong winds; not so with the Sport Pescador.
Comfort level is high
The manufacturer calls the seat system Comfort Seating, or CSS. That is because the seat is not only equipped with padded backside and adjustable backrest, but also with a padded pad. Therefore, the level of ergonomic comfort you get with the Sport Pescador is extremely high.
Moreover, the model features a foot brace facility too, which is conveniently adjustable to varying lengths. The braces are especially beneficial during times when you have to paddle fast and deep. That is because your body is supported while your shoulder gets to work.
The cockpit has a design that is very roomy. Because of that, anglers can enter, as well as exit, the boat with high comfort. In fact, the cockpit is designed in such a way as to make sure that it provides comfortable use of the tackle. Since the seats have high-quality materials, and the padding is excellent, a person can sit for a number of hours continuously and not feel fatigued at all in the end. Further, the position of the seat is very satisfactory, and that ensures that a kayaker gets to sit comfortably surrounded by the admirable amount of space. In fact, the seat assists in maintaining good or healthy posture in a number of little ways too.
Good striking colors
In case you order this kayak online, you may end up receiving a kayak which has mixed colors. However, that does not matter to most people. Having said that, if a color is really something that matters a lot to you, then you need to be alert to what color kayak you are actually buying. In fact, even if you are buying your yak from a local dealer, double-check the color.
Even though there are no official statements to support the claim, yet many people believe that the mixed-colored boats get produced when the company changes the production line to red from yellow, and vice versa. In the absence of that, you are going to get a normal-looking boat with plain single red color or plain yellow color.
Relaxed watery feel
Most people love sit-on-tops because of their ability to keep the body soothing even during sunny weather conditions. Since you get to dip your legs partly under water, you get to feel relaxed. Moreover, the seat is likely to get a bit wet too, due to the water entering through scupper holes. In case you want to remain dry, you can use scupper plugs. However, remaining dry is only possible in case you are dealing with calm water. If the water seems choppy, chances are you will get wet, even if just a little bit.
Perception Pescador Pro 12 Kayak Review – Concluding words
Some people might consider this expensive but there’s no doubt that the Malibu X-Factor Sit-On-Top Kayak is one of the best in the market. It has some great features and no wonder that it has one of the highest ratings on Amazon as well.
It comes with a convenient bait tank storage system and regular anglers will love this extra storage feature. With a patented casting platform and a 3 hatch center deck, there’s plenty of space for you to store your fishing and diving gear. I love the fact that the cockpit area is extra wide with a cup holder and a foot track system to keep you comfortable. This is definitely a worthy contender for the title of the best fishing kayak thanks to the deluxe hinged Gator Hatch, bungee system, and two-rod holders.
You won’t be disappointed in the accessories department because this comes equipped with a drain plug, side carries handle, nylon hooks, bow handles, stern handles, and eyelets. And the best part is that it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Yes, the initial price might be a deterrent for some people, but if you’re serious about buying an awesome angler kayak, then this is a very good investment that will serve you for years to come.
Types of Fishing Kayaks – SIT & SOT
When I started kayak fishing, the first question and the most important one I faced was the choice of a sit on top or sit in kayak and that’s why it’s extremely important to understand the difference between the two because each type is designed for a different purpose.
I own both types of yaks and from my experience over the last 10 years, I personally prefer a sit on top (SOT) when it comes to fishing, surfing, and scuba diving. And when I’m in the mood for a recreational paddling or camping trip, that’s when I bring out my Sit in kayak (SIT). Of course, the final choice depends on which one you prefer and that’s why I always recommend people to go to a local rental place and try out both of these types in the water – not only will it help you get a feel of the two types but this way, you’ll be able to make a better-informed decision!
Check out my Detailed Fishing Kayak Table Below:
Even though you’ve already gone through the above top fishing kayak reviews that I personally recommend, I do understand that there are other angler yaks in the market that also deserve a mention. That’s why I’ve compiled a huge tabular guide that compares all the top fishing yaks in the market at the moment. This guide and fishing kayak comparison chart will help you make an informed choice on which kayak to choose based on your needs and will also help you narrow down to the best fishing kayak for you.
Note – You can click on any of the columns to sort the data
|Kayak||Type||Weight (pounds)||Length (Feet)||Price||Rating|
|Old Town 10-Feet Vapor Fishing Kayak||Sit-In||50||10||$$$||4.6|
|KL Industries Sun Dolphin 10-Foot Fishing Kayak||Sit-In||45||10||$$||4.3|
|Perception Sport Pescador 12 Kayak||Sit-On-Top||60||12||$$$$||4.8|
|Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak with Paddles||Sit-On-Top||66||10||$$$||4.5|
|Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak||Sit-On-Top||60||10||$$$$||4.4|
|Sevylor QuickPak Coverless Kayak||Sit-On-Top||20||9||$||4.1|
|Malibu Kayaks Stealth 14 Fish and Dive Package||Sit-On-Top||64||14||$$$$$||5|
|Sevylor Inflatable Colorado Fishing Canoe||Sit-In||40||11||$$$||4.5|
|Perception Sport Pescador 10 Kayak||Sit-On-Top||52||10||$$$||4.4|
|Lifetime Tandem Kayak with Back Rests||Sit-On-Top||60||10||$$$||4.6|
|Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Flatwater Fishing Kayak||Sit on Top||68||12||$$$$||4.1|
|Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak||Sit on Top||55||10||$$$$||4|
|Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Angler Kayak||Sit on Top||64||12.3||$$$$||4|
|Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Tandem Sit-on-Top Kayak||Sit on Top||61||13.4||$$$$$||5|
|Ocean Kayak Trident 13 Prowler||Sit on Top||69||12.9||$$$$$||5|
|Native Watercraft Mariner 14.5 Propel Kayak||Sit on Top||87||14.5||$$$$$||5|
|Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12||Sit on Top||98||12||$$$$$||5|
|Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 Kayak||Sit on Top||110||14||$$$$$||5|
|Ocean Kayak - Trident 13 Angler 2014||Sit on Top||67||13.1||$$$$$||4.5|
|Hobie Mirage Revolution 11 Kayak||Sit on Top||57 (Hull) 70.3 (Rigged)||11.6||$$$$$||5|
|Hobie Mirage Revolution 13 Kayak||Sit on Top||69.5 (Hull) 82.8 (Rigged)||13.5||$$$$$||2|
|Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak||Sit on Top||75 (Hull) 88.3 (Rigged)||12.1||$$$$$||4.3|
|Hobie Mirage Adventure Island Kayak||Sit on Top||86.5 (Hull) 115 (Rigged)||16||$$$$$||5|
|Sea Eagle Sport 370 Pro Kayak Package||Inflatable||32||12.6||$$||4.2|
This table includes both sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks and although a lot of angler experts tend to prefer the sit on top variety, I would suggest that you try out both before coming to any conclusion because everyone has their own preference.
What is a Sit On Top Kayak?
Sit on Tops are very popular nowadays and are specially designed for fishing, surfing, touring and scuba diving. These kayaks allow the paddler to sit on top of the kayak deck (and hence the name) and there is little to no access to inside the kayak (mostly the access is through storage hatch openings).
Because it allows the paddler to sit on the deck, it becomes extremely popular with regular anglers because it allows for more freedom to cast lines and set up rigs. They’re great for warm weather fishing and recreational activities because they allow you to easily slide into the water for a quick swim and back up again.
What is a Sit-In Kayak?
Sit in kayaks or SIT for short are traditional style yaks with an open cockpit in which the paddler can climb in and sit inside the hull of the kayak with his feet under the deck. If it’s power and performance that you want, then this is the right type for you.
Sit-ins come equipped with a host of features designed to make your ride smoother and comfortable and usually come included with adjustable footrests, backrests, armrests and cup holders. Some tall people might feel a bit cramped for space but it all depends on the length of the kayak that you choose. Any sit in a kayak over 10 feet is more than comfortable enough in my personal opinion.
Factors to consider when Buying a Fishing Kayak
I’ve already discussed the most important factor to consider while buying a kayak which is to decide between a sit-in or sit on top kayak. Apart from that, there are a couple of other factors that you should take into account but always remember, go for something that you’re going to be using frequently. Upgrades can always be done and you can always switch over to a more expensive fishing kayak at any time.
1. Weight & Size
You need to take a measure of the weight and size of the kayak before deciding to bite the bullet. The weight shouldn’t be so much of a problem because of these days, manufacturers have kind of figured it all out but sometimes, a heavier kayak can be a pain to transport to the shore or to your truck.
Any kayak more than 10 feet should be good enough for average to tall people – personally I prefer a 12 foot one and I’m almost 6 feet 4 inches tall.
2. Storage Space
If you are one of those that love a long trip, either solo or with family, then you should prefer a kayak that offers a large storage space (one that comes with both rear and forward dry storage hatches). There are a few yaks that also come with tank wells at the rear for keeping gear that is a must carry but which you don’t mind getting wet such as scuba gear and tackle boxes.
3. Comfort – Try before you Buy
Always try and visit a local kayak shop in your area to test out the thing firsthand. Get a feel for how comfortable it is to sit in and if possible, take it for a test ride in the water. Get help from an expert if you must.
4. Speed or Stability
This is one trade-off that you’re going to have to make. Normally, you’ll get a better speed with a longer kayak as compared to a shorter one and also wider kayaks will offer more stability than their narrower counterparts. So don’t go blaming the manufacturers!
Also, with experience, you’ll soon find that kayaks that appeared to be stable in the beginning now appear to be slow and that’s because as a paddler, your balance and confidence improve with every trip so yes, that ways it’s quite similar to learning how to ride a bike.
5. To Rig or Not to Rig
To become an expert angler, you’ll need to master the art of rigging because with more powerful tools at your disposal, this sport will take on another meaning for you. Most of the angler models these days come designed and pre-rigged so it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
6. And finally, Money
Some of the more expensive fishing kayaks that I’ve bought have lasted me for years and that’s why I consider them true value for money.
The Benefits of Kayak Fishing
A lot of people ask me why I’m so passionate when it comes to kayak fishing – if the end result is catching a bucket load of fish, then why don’t you just buy a boat! Well, although they are technically correct, there’s a whole lot of advantages and benefits that kayak fishing provides such as:
Benefit # 1 – The peace and tranquility that a kayak offers
I just love the amount of peace I get when I go kayak fishing and other than the soft sound of my paddles, there’s no other sound and that’s another reason why I’m able to fish well. With no noise such as the loud rumbling of a motor, the fish tend to stay in one spot and this serves my purpose well.
Benefit # 2 – Better Access thanks to kayaking
A motorboat has its limitations when it comes to moving in small places and there are a lot of places where you can easily get to with the help of a kayak rather than a large boat. Often it’s in these small, hard to reach areas where you’ll find spots loaded with fish and as a kayak angler; this gives me a big advantage over others.
Benefit # 3 – Quiet and Better Speed when compared to small trolling boats
A lot of people are under the impression that kayaks are slow but the truth that any regular kayaker will attest to is that not only do you get a much quieter speed but it’s often faster than small trolling motor boats.
Benefit # 4 – Economical and Amazing Value for Money
I’ll be the first one to admit that I can’t afford a lavish lifestyle and that’s why one of the biggest benefits when it comes to kayak fishing is that is extremely economical. There’s no way that I would have been able to enjoy my love of fishing if I had to pay for expensive gas all the time. In fact, the only cost that you bear is while purchasing a kayak and after that, there is very little to no upkeep – you don’t need to pay for the big repairs or storage fees or boat registration fees or insurance fees for that matter!
Moreover, I personally believe that we should all do our little bit for the environment and paddling a kayak is one of my ways to contributing towards a greener planet.
Benefit # 5 – You can cover large distances easily
Like I’ve mentioned before, I live close to the beautiful Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and thanks to my trusty kayak, I’ve been able to cover a large part of it without feeling the fatigue that comes with long-distance travel.
Benefit # 6 – Convenience is your biggest Asset
Which one do you think is easier to transport and store – a large boat or a kayak? I usually tie my yak to the top of my trusted SUV when I need to get to the shore and it’s very easy to do so. For all those who own an inflatable kayak, the job is even easier since you can easily pop that into your transport vehicle and can also be easily dried out, deflated and then packed away.
There’s no way I would have had so much convenience with a small boat and that’s why I always prefer a yak over a boat!
Want to see some more Fishing Kayaks on this List?
After going through my detailed reviews of the top 3 fishing kayaks and seeing the detailed ultimate fishing kayak comparison chart above, I’m pretty sure you would have made up your mind on what the best fishing kayak is for you.
However, because a lot of new models for yak fishing keep coming out in the market, there might have been a really great fishing kayak that I might have missed. If that’s the case, please do let me know via the comments box below so that I can continuously update the comparison chart from time to time.